‘The future is bright’: USB sets 2024 fiscal year budget

Four Minnesota farmers joined 73 farmer-leaders serving on the United Soybean Board to approve $191.5 million for the organization’s 2024 fiscal year budget. The budget supports research, promotion and education investment portfolios selected through USB’s Portfolio Development Process. These investments drive demand for U.S. Soy and return value to all U.S. soybean farmers. The total budget figure also includes execution, oversight and program support. 

“I hope U.S. soybean farmers are proud of their checkoff as we pool together our resources to improve our reliability and sustainability in delivering our crop to the global marketplace,” said Meagan Kaiser, USB chair and farmer from Missouri. “But to make these significant gains and drive return on investment back to our farmers, we need to measure our success and learnings through resilience, differentiation and reputation of U.S. Soy. As we look ahead to 2024, we know that soy delivers solutions, and in many cases, it serves as a drop-in replacement to improve our carbon footprint across thousands of products. The future is bright for U.S. Soy.”

The board’s approval during the organization’s summer meeting July 17-21, hosted by the New York Corn and Soybean Growers Association in Niagara Falls, N.Y., puts in motion a strategic portfolio that focuses on growing preference and increasing the resiliency of U.S. Soy. Priority areas include Infrastructure & Connectivity, Health & Nutrition, and Innovation & Technology across supply and demand. In addition, the Communication & Education Committee aims to enhance the U.S. Soy and checkoff reputation across key audiences, and USB’s export promotion investments focus on differentiating U.S. soybeans around the globe. 

“It’s one of the biggest budgets we’ve ever had, but I think we were conservative with our estimates,” said USB Director Gene Stoel, who farms in Lake Wilson. “We have a lot of good things coming up that will hopefully increase the bottom line for all soybean farmers.”

Stoel, Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council Chair Tom Frisch, Benson farmer Patrick O’Leary and Martin County grower Lawrence Sukalski represent Minnesota on USB. Council CEO Tom Slunecka also attended the board meeting.

FY24 investments spanning each of the three priority areas, in addition to communication and education and export promotion, include:

Infrastructure & Connectivity

  • Supply: Engage in direct road, rail and river markets outreach to more organizations to continue the momentum for funding research for U.S. infrastructure improvements. 
  • Demand: Identify and address infrastructure and logistical constraints limiting market entry and expansion of existing and new soy-based technologies. Efforts will explore innovative soy-based materials recycling and new processing technologies for soybean oil and meal.  

Health & Nutrition

  • Supply: Collaborate with leading agronomists and extension and research scientists to deliver real-time updates from fields across soy-growing regions to better inform farmers about emerging pests and diseases, providing recommendations for management and control. 
  • Demand: Conduct research illustrating soy’s support across the lifespan: healthy growth, living and aging. In animal diets, continue research in anti-nutritional factors and increase soybean meal inclusion rates across the poultry, pig, dairy and aquaculture sectors.  

Innovation & Technology

  • Supply: Develop new biochemicals and biologicals for pest management, including research on natural products as potential herbicides, fungicides and nematicides. Field trials using genomics will also accelerate the development of new soybean varieties.
  • Demand: Initiate innovative new uses across multiple sectors as a drop-in replacement to petroleum and petrochemicals. One example includes biobased firefighting foam made from soybean meal/flour.

“The firefighting foam should help us use up a whole bunch of soybean meal if we can get it through the regulatory process,” Stoel said. “I think it’s a very promising investment.”

Communication & Education Committee

  • Bring the U.S. Soy brand to life by integrating stories of soy-based products into events and programming, fostering an emotional connection with consumers. This effort aligns with our Reputation Acceleration Strategy, which focuses on building positive influence, reputation and demand for soy. We are also committed to informing farmer stakeholders about our checkoff investments, ensuring a favorable future for U.S. Soy.

Export Promotion 

  • Growing exports in more than 80 countries through the U.S. Soybean Export Council’s strategy to differentiate U.S. Soy in the global marketplace. Partnerships with the U.S. Meat Export Federation and the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council promote exports of soy-fed meat. Investment in the American Soybean Association’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health creates long-term demand for U.S. soybeans in developing and emerging markets and improves food security.

“For every dollar we invest in the checkoff, we’re getting $12.34 back in returns,” said Ohio farmer Steve Reinhard, USB vice chair and chair of the Value Alignment Committee. “Whether it’s our analysis and design investments to dredge the Mississippi River, cover crop cost-share program through Farmers for Soil Health or increasing soybean meal inclusion in poultry and pig diets, these have been some huge wins for the American farmer. In the year ahead, demand growth for soybean oil in biofuels, adhesives and nonfood uses will continue to grow, opening up doors for checkoff investments.” 

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